Moving from ‘Survivor’ to ‘Thriver’

Workers in the childhood abuse field have often viewed a person who have experienced abuse as a survivor, consequently, people who experienced childhood abuse adopted the survivor label. It is true that they have survived a very serious trauma, however, one might question the usefulness of claiming an identity label that is really rather limiting. PICT refers to it as the ‘lifeboat identity’.

Lifeboat Identity

When the ship is sinking it is imperative to get into the lifeboat. People huddle together in the lifeboat traumatised, each rejoicing that they are a survivor. However, though it is better than being in the sinking ship, the quality of life in a lifeboat is not wonderful. It is cramped, uncomfortable, frightening and lacking food, warmth, toilet facilities and the simple opportunity to stretch your body. The people desire to get to land, to exit the lifeboat and to start thriving and having a life again. The biggest problem is how to get the lifeboat propelled towards land, and in most cases, knowing which direction actually leads to land.


A similar situation faces most people who have experienced childhood abuse, they may have survived it (they are now in the lifeboat) and may have found others rejoicing that they too have survived the experience, but they are still uncomfortable, frightened and lacking some of the basics of life. They desire to start having a life again, but do not know how to propel the lifeboat towards land. Many people have stayed in the lifeboat, just being ‘survivors’, not knowing how to move past that experience to start actually ‘thriving’.


Parks Inner Child Therapy (PICT) empowers this rejoicing group to find and propel their lives, to exit the lifeboat and step back onto land. To return to being the person they were meant to be before trauma sank the ship – a person who is living a full, rich and thriving life, who is in charge of their own life and choices – not just a survivor. The whole PICT method is focused on empowering people to love and value themselves; to feel good about being alive, to find usefulness in any negative experience and become reconnected to the experience of joy. To be their ‘real selves’ not just a reflection of the abuse experience.

‘Surviving’ is only the first step; one can step back onto solid ground, keep on stepping and move ahead to ‘Thriving’.